The word thankful has come up a lot over the past few weeks. As we prepared for and celebrated thanksgiving, conversations often turned towards all we have to be thankful for. While I could list many things, picking up this week's book for the Gilmore Girls reading challenge reminded me just how much I have to be thankful for.
In "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America," Barbara Ehrenreicht, author and journalist who holds a doctorate in cellular immunology, goes undercover and tries to live on a minimum wage salary. Ehrenreicht takes the cheapest apartments she can find and any job she can get....maid, waitress, Walmart clerk, etc. She tires to live off of this very small salary while working these physically and mentally exhausting jobs. Can one make enough to live while working as a hotel maid? Is one job enough, or does one need to then work a second job just to make enough to live? Ehrenreicht explores these questions and more as she shows readers what trying to get by on minimum wage truly entails.
It is hard for those who have never lived on a minimum wage salary to try to understand how those who do struggle to feed and house their families. Ehrenreicht and her co-workers work ridiculously long hours in physically and mentally demanding jobs trying to make just barely enough money. While one could argue that many jobs are physically and/or mentally demanding, those demands become more tolerable with more appropriate compensation. Ehrenreicht's book reminded me to look at my life, my job, my world from a different perspective.